Monday, April 24, 2017

Cascade-Siskiyou expansion: Who makes our nation's laws, the president or Congress?

By Travis Joseph

Presidents of the United States, regardless of political party, should always follow the law. Separation of powers is the founding principle of our Constitution.

Law Professor Michael Blumm's guest opinion in The Oregonian/OregonLive ("A misguided attack on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument," April 4) offers a different argument: Presidents should follow the law when it fits a political agenda, but be allowed to reinterpret the law when it doesn't.

This conflict is at the heart of the American Forest Resource Council's legal challenge to President Obama's expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon: Who makes our nation's laws, the President or Congress?

Congress passed a law called the O&C Act in 1937. The law reserves more than 2.2 million acres of BLM forests in Western Oregon for the explicit purpose of "permanent forest production" on "all lands" based on the principle of sustained yield. In 80 years, Congress has not amended, repealed, replaced, or modified the O&C Act. It remains the law of the land.

As made clear in his guest opinion, Professor Blumm does not personally agree with the mandate of the O&C Act. Fair enough. All Americans likely disagree with some of our country's laws. But we must follow them nonetheless - unless or until they are changed - because America is a nation of laws. What's the point if we get to pick and choose the laws we follow?

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